As has been discussed by me in two parts (here and here) the Palestinian move at the UN in September is more a showcase than a real thought out political move. Each side has its reasons discussed in the two articles so I will not reanalyze these, but just add a few points.
The first is the Israeli preparation. In addition to arming settlers for the “potential demonstrations at settlements” (joke) they have given military training as well, for what exactly is still unknown. Danny Dayan, chairman of the YESHA council (a racist settler organization) said Armed settlers “operate under orders to avoid killing civilians [and] in the event of a break-in at a settlement, the response would be purely defensive, nothing offensive.” So let me get this straight, they are getting training from the military that says they do not target civilians, although proven otherwise by a large number of cases, and that the settlers are following the same standards. People who are willingly, ideologically, and illegally living in Occupied Palestinian Territory who act like outlaws are going to follow the law? This is perhaps the worst joke I have heard in a long time.
This articles here and here describe some of the methods taught to settlers to deal with those unruly Palestinians who want their rights. One procedure is to shot them in the legs if they “get too close” to the settlements. This is amazing because this is the exact procedure the IDF uses, or supposedly uses, against protesters in the West Bank. Yet anyone, myself included, who has ever been to protests in the West Bank knows that almost any practice that is “supposed to be followed,” rarely is. Soldiers, who are trained for this sort of thing, aim at children directly, aim above the legs, and have games where they snipe for children’s eyes, or other small parts to show competence and aim. If you do not believe me, read the testimonies of all the anti-semitic, probably holocaust denying, and self hating Jews at breaking the silence who discuss their military service. The same blog post says
The leaked document also includes a statement by the Israeli military that they are making extensive preparations “to deal with incidents near the fences and the borders of the state of Israel.” Although the state of Israel has never defined its borders since its creation in 1948, the reference to ‘borders’ appears to refer to the edges of Israeli settlements, built on annexed Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Now that I have bored you with follow ups, let’s discuss the legal implications on the Palestinian bid in September. Many people are commenting this is a declaration for statehood. This is false. The Palestinian leadership already declared statehood in 1988 in Algiers and sought recognition from member states of the UN. What the Palestinians essentially are doing is making formal recognition from states be the basis for full membership in the United Nations. There are some good points, hypothetically, in this move in one believes in the two state solution. In theory, this means the UN has a mandate to solve the conflict according to international law, meaning the UN has the right to get the settlers out, divide Jerusalem, taking Israel to the international court and allow for a just solution to the refugee issue according to UN resolution 194 and its subsequent follow ups. This of course is theory, considering the UN is not an independent body, but a body run by the power of states. The United States obviously being the leading power gets the most say, hence none of this will happen.
That being said, there are many bad aspects of the bid as well, even if we assume it is done not for the reasons I discuss in my first two articles above. The first is the issue of refugees who could become officially disenfranchised, even more so than they already are. They would be beholden to the PLO in wording, but not in deed since they would not be official citizens of the state, and the government of Palestine. With the PLOs track record on refugees (see the Palestine Papers), they people would be stuck to adhere to an agreement the PLO strikes on the issue. In turn the Palestinians, mostly a diaspora people would be left out… a “State of Palestine” must not be allowed to replace or usurp the right to representation and self-determination of the whole Palestinian people through a reconstituted PLO, as is noted in the Electronic Intifada blog.
Next is the issue of who is to take care of the issue. As noted here, the Security Council would potentially get the final say on policy matters. The problem with this is the US veto. Even if 14 of 15 members of the UNSC vote for something, the US can still veto it on Israel’s behalf. Granted, the Palestinians could then go to the International Court of Justice, but Israel has not recognized the Rome Statute, making it difficult to make it adhere to decisions that are binding in international law. The United States Palestinian Communities Network worded it best:
As has been recently revealed, this initiative in no way protects nor advances our inalienable, and internationally recognized, rights—fundamental of which are our right to return to the homes and properties from which we were forcibly expelled, our right to self-determination, and our right to resist the settler colonial regime that has occupied our land for more than 63 years.
The Palestinian people, wherever they are, hold these rights. They are non-negotiable. No one can barter them away for false promises of “peace” and “stability.” The cynical irony of turning a UN resolution enshrining our right to return under international law (UNGA Res. 194) into a rhetorical ploy should give anyone pause. That it is being advanced at a time when the PA does not even have the political mandate of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza through Palestinian Legislative Council elections must also give us pause.
As I have said, this move by the Palestinian leadership has not been thoroughly examined and seems to be a political ploy by an illegitimate leadership, more than an honest attempt to achieve justice. The UN is a beholden organization to its leader member the United States who has already said it will veto any “unilateral declaration” (which is funny because how can international recognition be unilateral). Yet we are supposed to believe that the United States would not do the same thing in the Security Council on important negotiation aspects when they have already declared their intent to veto this resolution.